Imagine yourself in a familiar place where there are a number of other people as well as yourself. Then imagine that Jesus walked into that place. Who would he go to first? Who would Jesus sit with, or stand with, or talk with?
The general practice of Christian worship is that people sit in rows while the leader addresses everyone at once, so the scenario above doesn’t come quickly to mind when we think about Jesus. But we know from the Gospels that he did a lot of his ministering on a one to one basis, often ignoring the larger gathering to focus on an individual.
So, in your imagined situation, who would Jesus go to?
A year or so into Jesus’ public ministry, John the Baptist was having second thoughts. It seems that Jesus wasn’t being the kind of Messiah that John was expecting. So he sent some of his disciples to Jesus to double check. Was Jesus the one whose arrival John had been proclaiming, or should he look out for someone else?
Jesus drew the visitors’ attention to the rag-tag assortment of humanity that surrounded him. "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.”
The emphasis here is not on the miracle cures, but on the people themselves: those who are blind, or lame, or disfigured, or deaf, or dying, or poor - the disenfranchised people who begged a living on the suspicion-clouded fringes of ordinary society. These people - as Jesus saw it - were the shining stars of God’s kingdom. And the fact that they were being loved and helped, was the best available proof that God’s anointed one had indeed arrived.
When Jesus walked into a place, he looked out for the person who most needed his love - be that a blind beggar, or a staggeringly wealthy but guilt-ridden and lonely tax collector. As we seek to continue his work in our daily lives, we need to do the same.